Allegories, Symbolism and Dante Honors English I Symbol Any object, person, place, or action that represents something bigger than itself. They are all around – flags for the country, cougars for the students, apples for the teacher, etc. Allegory Simply put, an allegory is a story that uses many symbols to tell a more general story. So what is the difference between a symbol and an allegory? To be honest, they are extremely similar. Everything created (paintings, movies and yes, even writings) can have one or more symbols in them, but an allegory is a collection of symbols that work together to tell a literal story as well as a deeper one. Moving on It is one thing to know what a symbol and allegory is, but it is completely different trying to interpret them in a passage. To help do this a man named Dante Alighieri invented a Fourfold method to guide your thinking. Use Dante’s fourfold method to help find symbols and allegories in stories. 1. Literal/Historical Level Everything has this level These are the things that are actually happening – basically what you would put in a plot diagram For example, in regards to the novel Animal Farm, it literally is about the livestock on a farm.. In Antigone, the protagonist chooses to bury his brother despite her uncle’s (the king) orders not to and therefore risk execution. 2. Political Level This level shows how people relate to others, the community or world. Think of any political subjects: rich v. poor, majority v. minority. These are man v. society conflicts. In Antigone, this level shows that the protagonist is not just challenging her uncle, but the overall rule of law and government’s authority. 3. Moral Level This level deals with the realm of ethics or what is right and wrong. Internal conflicts usually deal with the moral level. For example, in Antigone, the protagonist decides to bury her brother because it would be an inhuman denial of his rights not to. 4. Spiritual Level This level deals with how man relates to fate, destiny and faith. Popular examples of allegories with a spiritual level are the Narnia series. NOTES: Every piece of literature has a literal level. Each level can stand on their own or work together. Notes are finished! Time for the activity!!!